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To: NYer
The great Galileo said that God wrote the book of nature in the form of the language of mathematics.

A slight misquotation, but perhaps of significance in these careful formulations.

In The Assayer, Galileo wrote, "Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe, which stands continually open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one learns to comprehend the language and read the letters in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics ... "

Regarding mathematics itself, Galileo seemed to have the Platonic view, that mathematics concerned itself with an abstract reality distinct from material reality. Pope Benedict is careful to say that mathematics is an "invention of our human intellect."

Near the end of "The First Day" in The Dialogues Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Salviati expands on this theme. Regarding mathematical propostions he says, "... I say that the human intellect does understand some of them perfectly, and thus in these it has as much certainty as Nature itself has. Of such are the mathematical sciences alone; that is geometry and arithmetic, in which the Divine intellect indeed knows infinitely more propositions, since it knows all. But with regard to those few which the human intellect does understand, I believe that its knowledge equals the Divine in objective certainty ..."

In a footnote, Stillman Drake notes that this passage was cited as representing one of eight points offensive to the Church - "6. That he asserted some equality between the Divine and the human mind in geometrical matters."

So it would seem that we might still feel a little frisson when we read "the great Galileo".

6 posted on 01/10/2009 6:16:25 PM PST by dr_lew
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To: dr_lew

Without making too much of it, I perceive some equality between human and angelic intelligence in geometric matters.


7 posted on 01/10/2009 6:22:22 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
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